Ardrossan Academy Wind Band

The following was contributed by James Martin

Ardrossan Academy Wind Band were the pride of the school in the 1980's when they were invited to play at the Glasgow Garden Festival, headlined a sell out concert at Barrfields Pavilion in Largs and played with the Royal Highland Fusiliers.

The wind band was made up of over 50 pupils from the school and was led by music teacher Mairi Hibberd.

It was something of a surprise to a number of teachers that took extra-curricular activities that the wind band was willing to meet for practice at 7.45am on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. This was increased when there was a concert (or gig) in the offing.

But, dedication rung through and Mairi was able to get 50+ pupils, including some P7 pupils from the local feeder primaries out of their slumber; presentable and ready to 'blow' at the crack of dawn twice a week.

Perhaps the fact that the band didn't opt for the usual 'school band' classical play lists was something to do with the pull for the pupils. But with a range from The Muppets Theme to a very Spanish "Malaguena" through Big Band Numbers to the somewhat controversial "The Stripper" by Dave Rose, the band offered an early sojourn for some pupils into the wonderful world of the 'Big Band Sound'.

In 1988, the biggest Garden show in Scotland kicked off for a year in the south side of the River Clyde opposite the relatively new SECC that was to be known as the 'Glasgow Garden Festival'. The show was to feature the world of Scottish horticulture, but it was also to showcase what the culturally great and good of the Country as well.

Ardrossan Academy was invited to play at the huge 'Rendezvous' which was a massive sunken 'coliseum' located slap band in the middle of the festival. The band played again, outside the Southern Rotunda later in the afternoon in an open air concert in with a wonderfully colourful backdrop of flowers, plants, trees and shrubs. Anyone could easily have mistaken the location for somewhere in the Mediterranean far less just outside Govan.

Amazingly, Ardrossan Academy Wind Band were one of the few bands or artists invited to return to the Festival (having been such a huge hit the first time), having a further experience to experience 'open air music' - being blessed that the Glasgow rain kept away for the band on both occasions.

The Band were already riding on a high having topped the bill at a 'Night of Musical Entertainment' a sell out Charity concert organised by Largs Inner Wheel at Barrfields Pavilion in Largs in February earlier in the year.

Again the band had been invited back there, having been joined on stage at a concert the previous year, by Peter Morrison, a big name in the Scottish Traditional music scene, who was accompanied by the Band to 'Edelweiss' from the Sound of Music.

The wind band did however, take some controversy to the February concert where concerns were expressed as the band were due to include "The Stripper" in their play list. And having been born in the 70's, political correctness was really beginning to find its teeth in the 1980's. This could have caused a bit of problem for a band of 'school children' playing such inappropriate music as "stripping music...!" But in typical AAWB fashion, they weren't going to be put of by such a trivial thing as the politically correct brigade.

The show went on, with the band closing their set with "The Stripper". Almost like they weren't going to play and then all of a sudden, in a two-fingered massive trombone slide it kicked in. And the crowd went wild for more. Finishing up in the usual encore that the bands following posse (of mums, dads, brothers, sisters, nanas, papas, aunts, uncles, neighbours, fellow pupils and anyone else that would buy a ticket for a concert) had come to expect.

Whilst at the time, many of the pupils not connected with band probably didn't realise just what ambassadors for the school their fellow pupils were. Some probably also 'wouldn't have been seen dead playing that kind of music'. It wasn't quite DuranDuran or Wham, lets be honest.

However, who'd have thought that almost 20 years later a little known artist by the name of Robbie Williams would be tackling the Big Band Sound. And I can assure you that there would be a number of AAWB members saying, "...we played that kind of stuff in our school band 15 years ago...!"

The members of the band have a lot to thank band leader Mairi Hibberd for the introduction to a fantastic grounding to a genre of music that has given then an opportunity to understand where a lot of today's music has come from (and is trying to return to).

The Glasgow Garden Festival (times two), Headlining Musical Concerts (again times two), playing with the world-class Royal Highland Fusiliers at Ardrossan Civic Centre; offering children at a School in Govan the opportunity to hear what can be achieved by committing yourself and working as a team; playing at the big gig at Park Church in Ardrossan (at the Christmas Service) - amongst playing in the school many times. To name but a few of the ambassadorial roles the 50+ band members played.

Considering the band was involved (at its peak) during the teacher strikes of the 80's where extra-curricular activity all but died is another commendation to the dedication of the pupils, teachers and supporters behind the scene that made it all possible.

Looking back, those involved have a lot to be proud of...

Those involved in the band during the 80's Wind Band were:

Flutes: Lorelle Mackie; Kate Willetts; Lorna Walker

Oboes: Fiona MacPherson; Janice Morrison;

Clarinets: Katy Renwick; Sharon MacDougall; Judith Aspinwall; Craig Hamilton; Douglas Tedd; Tracy Fitzpatrick;

Solo Cornets: Shona Mackay; Suzie Smith; Karen Denny; Sarah-Jane Steadman;

Second & Third Cornets: Trina Robertson; Danny Hinde; Stuart Reid; Paul Harvey; Graeme Weir; TimmyAspinwall; Iain Fairclough; Shona Steadman; Lynne Allison

Horns: Adam Lennox; Ewan Jack; Morven Taylor; Glenda Taylor

Trombones: Jacqui Hume; Paul McNamara; David Kindness; Tina Renwick; Morag Robertson; Stephen Park; David Forrest; Scott Walker; Jason Bryce; Elizabeth Cobb;

Basses: Scott Ramsay; Thomas Adams; Chris Mooney;

Percussion: Jamie Martin (Drums); Allan Smith (Keyboards); David MacDougall (Auxillary Percussion)

Supporting Team: Billy Hibberd; Alex Andrew; Ian Lennox; May Renwick, Constance Kerr; Jim Willetts

The following was contributed by Ian Calvert

Myself and Alan Everington were founder menbers of the band when Mharie Hibbard (nee Boyd) set it up. I played percussion from 1979 to 1984 and Alan played cornet. Jim Mathieson and I convinced the powers that be to purchase a 5 piece drumkit for the band and to assist me with music O level and thereafter Higher Music. For the first two years of the band's life I used my own drumkit - a pearl four piece.

The band played a number of successful gigs and our popularity gained momentum, I had an apprentice percussionist namely Mark Blue who took over from when I left in 1984. Our signature hits were Little Brown Jug and various jazz numbers but our big hit was a version of enough is enough (Barbara Streisand) which always brought the roof down. These were the truly formative years which led to the continued success of the band.

The following was contributed by Mairi Hibberd

I would just like to correct the information about the drumkit which Ian Calvert mentions above. The band fundraised to buy that kit and it was not bought by the school or the Music Dept. It caused some contention at the time and remained so!
Mairi can be contacted at this email address: